Saturday, November 05, 2005

Porch frolics at band camp (accent 3)

My history with the band actually started in accent 2's time (when I lived someplace that had very few days with sunshine and it once snowed in June and it got dark before I got off the bus), but only for a year, so I won't count it here, except to say that the other girl who played my instrument wore turquoise rings on every finger. I couldn't play much for watching those rings while she played.

When we moved to accent 3 territory, my folks made sure to move us into a place with a good school system and lots of opportunities - one of which was the music program. My brother was a gifted musician and Mom and Dad wanted to ensure he would be able to continue playing in a challenging and successful program. I had started playing and didn't suck, and was in chorus to boot, so the program would be good for me too.

Over time I'd had to choose between band and theater, or band and tennis, or band and basketball, or band and chorus, and I always, always, always chose band. See, it's something people don't understand, and is hard to explain, this being with the band and knowing it's the best thing ever because the band is filled with kids who are creative and smart and funny and loud and exuberant and fun. At my school chorus was filled with preeners and prima donnas, the jocks were full-throttle self-absorbed idiots, the cheerleaders don't even deserve mention here because of their elitist and snotty approach to life, the smoking lounge kids were OK but were mostly grits and stoners who hated even being at school, and so that left the kids in band to hang out with. Because of course I didn't really want to hang out with kids who did NOTHING all day - though I had a couple of friends like that and all they were interested in were boys, clothes, and pop music, for which I had little patience and even less interest or talent. Band was made up largely of kids who were like me, and we had a group method of expression that nobody else in any of those other groups could.

So, anyway, band was important, and taught me lots more than just how to trill or what a fermata is or how to sight-transpose Mozart (though that was orchestra, really). For instance, that time at band camp my freshman year in high school.....

We had band camp out in the mountains of West Virginia at an older resort that had a big central building and several 2-story, 4-6-bedroom cabins. We had meals in the main building and ate voraciously at long tables, we sweated under the hot sun during the day with our music and marching ("ankle to knee means ankle to knee! Get 'em up there!"), we took naps in the afternoon when it was just too hot to do anything else, and we noticed one another all day long. At night, after practicing all day, we would go to the dances in the main hall when there was one, or hang out on the porches of the cabins, or wander around being a teenager. You know how it is, when just being outside without adults is a thrill, and everyone around you is keen to do the same and is experimenting with their adult personna and trying to be cool (and failing, for the most part).

One of those nights, after the wandering and/or dancing and/or further practice was over, a bunch of us freshman girls were on the front porch of our cabin, waiting for it to cool off enough so we could go upstairs to our HOT room to sleep. We had really bonded that week, and I'm sure were sharing some deep dark secret or debating the nature of the universe, because we were pretty engrossed in our talk, there in the hot summer night, flicking mosquitos off our arms and smelling of sunscreen and Love's Baby Fresh.

And then, out of the darkness came a terrible yell, the war-whooping of a half-dozen young men (my brother and his friends) who were charging down the street toward us, wildly waving their arms and shrieking. I remember looking at my friends, thinking "what the heck is wrong?" when it became very apparent that nothing was wrong at all, that those of us on the porch were actually the TARGET of the yelling and arm waving, and that whipped cream was involved and that we were being baptized into the band by a bunch of crazed 17-year-old boys and loving every.single.last.minute of it. Shrieking, screaming, laughing, we accepted the baptism, and I in particular because my friend's extremely HANDSOME older brother was concentrating quite a bit of energy on me, as was the actual DRUM MAJOR of the band, who was a senior and therefore all grown up. Wooo!

As fast as they came they were gone, laughing and running with the speed and grace of all young men, and we were left there on the porch in slightly dazed confusion and excitement. I had not the common sense to get up and run inside, like some of the girls did, and so had borne the brunt of the attack (gladly!) and was therefore almost unrecognizable under the generous coating of whipped cream that had been so energetically applied. Even though I looked a mess I felt a little more grown up, and the next day had quite the story to tell and some new ways to look at those junior-year boys.

You know - my brother still is in touch with a lot of those guys - I wonder if they remember that night, and if they know the service they provided to us young girls who they "creamed" so long ago?

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